— Published 8 September 2023

For the 2030 Winter Games, France in procession at the IOC

No time to lose. Less than two months after officially announcing its bid for the 2030 Winter Games, France is stepping up a gear. In keeping with tradition, the project’s promoters made a return trip to Lausanne on Thursday 7 September. They pushed open the door of the IOC.

The French Olympic Committee (CNOSF) announced it the same day in a press release: a six-strong delegation travelled to the Olympic capital to present the project of the two French regions, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. The French team met with the host, Thomas Bach.

The cast spoke volumes about the importance of the visit. At the head of the motorcade was David Lappartient, President of the CNOSF and also head of the UCI. Beside him is Marie-Amélie Le Fur, President of the French Paralympic Committee (CPSF). The two regional presidents, Renaud Muselier for Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Laurent Wauquiez for Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, were also present. This was obvious. The rest of the group included two of the French members of the IOC, the former Guy Drut and the new Martin Fourcade. Both Olympic champions. Another obvious choice.

The nature of the exchanges? Classic. At this stage of the process, France is advancing its pawns without trying to shake the walls. It was the last country to enter the campaign, and in mid-July it began the “permanent dialogue” with the IOC. With the Olympic body having announced that it will postpone the award of the 2030 Winter Games to Paris until the July 2024 session, the French have no reason to rush into anything. Like their two presumed European rivals, Sweden and Switzerland, they can do things in the right order.

The release of the CNOSF the precise: “This meeting of the French delegation allowed share with the teams of the CIO the ambition of the French candidature.” In detail, David Lappartient and the rest of the delegation emphasised to Thomas Bach that “the French vision of organising the Games must be at the service of the host territories, which benefit from an exceptional environment in which to host this global event.

The press release also notes that “all the players present, who are working together on the various aspects of the bid, with the support of the French government, were able to reaffirm their unity in the service of the Olympic and Paralympic sports movement and in the service of organising sustainable and innovative Games that are part of the essential changes sought by the IOC and the dynamic of the Paris 2024 Games.

Finally, the CNOSF explains that the joint work, “involving all the stakeholders in close collaboration with the IOC, will continue over the coming weeks to share the vision and organise the master plan for the French Alps’ bid for the 2030 Winter Games.

Nothing too spectacular. But the French delegation’s visit to Lausanne was in keeping with the timetable set for all Olympic hopefuls. It also sends out a signal, and a message, to the competition: France is moving forward, it is making good progress and it will not back down.

The appointment last week of Vincent Jay, Olympic biathlon champion at the Vancouver Games in 2010, as project director for the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region’s bid is proof that the project is taking an increasingly concrete shape. He was also present at the Olympic House in Lausanne on Thursday 7 September. At the end of his sporting career, the Savoyard became director of the Val d’Isère sports club, before joining Banque Populaire Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes as head of sports partnerships.

Coincidentally, the Swedish project also moved a step closer to a more formal bid this week. A delegation from the national Olympic (SOK) and Paralympic (SPK) committees visited the municipality of Falun and the county of Dalarna, in the centre-west of the country. The purpose of the visit was to meet with the local authorities and inspect the competition venues being considered for the Nordic skiing events.